Leave it to Michael Bay, Hollywood’s most notorious demolition man, to bring us a cautionary tale about a shadowy U.S. leader who sees no cost too great in pursuit of protecting the homeland.
Bay's latest, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” -- yes, America apparently demanded a fourth chapter -- has a villain who will remind viewers of a certain vice president back in the news: Dick Cheney.
Kelsey Grammer plays Harold Attinger, the chief of an elite CIA unit who leads the government's efforts to eradicate any surviving Transformers (spoiler alert for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon") following an attack on Chicago. His answer to everyone who questions his take-no-prisoners attitude: Remember 9/11 ... er, the destruction in the Windy City.
It’s Attinger, not the president, calling the shots. Sound familiar?
When one of Attinger’s henchmen goes after Mark Wahlberg, the latest hapless-dad-turned-hero, our protagonist questions whether the government agent has a warrant.
The response, the type of one-liner that only a Bay movie could deliver: “My face is my warrant."
Attinger's ultimate goal is to build a robot army, fighting machines controlled behind closed doors at the CIA. If a few innocent Americans die, if some civil liberties are violated, no worries -- it's all in pursuit of national security, he reasons.
And just in case the comparison doesn’t quite sink in, Attinger is balding, gruff and has thin wire-framed glasses. The always-subtle Bay did everything short of having Grammer shoot somebody in the face.
Mix in a few analogies to the immigration debate and you have one of the more cartoonish, and inconsequential, allusions to politics in recent cinematic history.
But you’re probably not seeking social commentary when forking over the cash to see explosions in Imax 3-D.
This is the Michael Bayiest film ever: Just when you think he’s run out of things to blow up, he finds something else.
Early in the film, Grammer declares, “The age of the Transformers is over."
Not exactly. It’s 165 minutes, just 10 minutes shorter than the classic “The Godfather.” Enjoy.